BMW & CarPlay Access



Does anyone know the official stance from BMW on which new cars include CarPlay at no cost? CarPlay was not on my 2018 sticker, although on some others I looked at, but was able to push it down free of charge via the BMW Connected Drive website. It showed the subscription valid through 2039.

I believe you can buy it for older cars as long as they iDrive 5.0 for $300, which is the amount listed on some stickers and what I assumed I would have to pay. Seems like a ripoff to include it as part of the MSRPs for certain cars, although it’s available to everyone.

Any ideas?


Beginning in 2019 MY, CarPlay is a paid service. You get the first year free, then pay 80 (I think)/yr.


What a crazy way to conduct business… I bought an aftermarket radio for my RSX that has CarPlay and I pay no one a subscription to use it.

BMW is off their rocker.


Wow… BMW is charging a subscription fee for someone else’s technology that they give out for free… talk about luxury.


The problem isn’t really with BMW. I’m a web/software developer, the problem is the amount of work involved with keeping the vehicle software up to date and working for 5, 10, plus years after the car is launched with whatever version of iOS a phone might be running. How can any car company promise that their vehicles will work with Carplay in 5, 10 plus years? (Answer: they can’t, but throwing money at it means they’ll have a chance). The problem is your phones software will change massively every 1-2 years, with minor changes every month, that’s a huge technical challenge to maintain numerous vehicles with different tech and one that has and will continue to catch major car companies out.

I think $80 p/a is a little too much but you can expect most other vehicles will not work with Carplay once they’re 3-4 years old. I’d be interested to see how long BMW will support older iPhones, or how long they’ll support new BMW’s, the problem is Apples decisions will probably decide that for BMW.


I get what you are saying but this is mostly BMW capitalizing on their ability to charge customers for options that are standard on a $30k Kia.

CarPlay is the easier piece vs. keeping iDrive up to date and functional with newer phones/OS since Apple manages much of the core capabilities within CarPlay. I’m sure there is significant time invested at BMW to map CarPlay to specific controls, imbed it within iDrive, and test any release, but a drop in the bucket vs. the software development time for iDrive and BMW Connect.

It’s clear BMW understands they need to offer certain imenities that people expect to compete, but also people interested in their vehicles are willing to pay to have them.

Funny that they roll in options in redesigned 2019 models that should be standard like blind spot warning, but find other ways to capture additional revenue, no less in a subscription model.


I agree with the both posts above. Selling a software once is now old fashion, everybody is looking for recurring revenue. I expect other manufacturer’s follow the suit.


But the point is Kia won’t guarantee in 3 or 4 years that Carplay will still work with their vehicles, and with significant interior refreshes occuring every 3-4 years, and if you’re Audi/BMW/Merc every 2 years, and iOS has major revisions every 1.5-2 years, and minor updates every few weeks, that’s a huge number of variables. The problem isn’t will it work now, but will it work when Apple next updates Carplay/iOS.

Carplay would not be easier to keep working. BMW has no control over Carplay and the more advanced functionality (such as wireless Carplay) they develop the more they have to test, maintain, bugfix, etc each and every time Apple decide to update iOS which is every month. The problem is that BMW (and any other manufacturer using Carplay) will have to continue developing their own software, while also making sure Carplay works. A good example of the extra work involved was last year when Apple made changes to iOS which broke some of the bluetooth controls for older BMW vehicles (

Compare that to iDrive which BMW controls 100%, it decides what development to carry out, when to do it, which vehicles to support, which peripherals to support, etc.

I worked for a company that was developing a new iOS App for a major newspaper a few years ago. After several months work Apple released an iOS update that meant the App was effectively handicapped. We had no control and it was a massive waste of time and money, but Apple have that control.

How can any company estimate supporting something for several years when they have so little control and thus no way to estimate cost of support?


I hear you on iOS app development… there are regular updates while you need to take into account 6 different screen sizes and 12 different supported devices with different capabilities.

CarPlay is different as it’s a pared down version of iOS which is why car companies are willing to use it as 80-90% is managed by Apple and they just need to manage the “hooks” into their stuff. $300 Pioneer or Alpine head-units have CarPlay so the management cannot be overwhelming.

No other manufacturer has gone to a subscription model and CarPlay continues to work and they provide the necessary updates. BMW said the subscription model is to allow customers to switch as they rollout Google Assistant and Alexa, nothing about support (which would have been an better answer). Since this is a leasing forum, most people will make out only paying $160 vs $300 over 3 years, but obviously BMW wants in on the lucrative subscription model like your pest control company and local car wash as they can easily get $500-$1,500 over the lifetime of the vehicle.


I suspect if BMWs experiment works, others wil slowly follow suit. BMW is a bit different than some manufacturers as you have to get nav in order to get CarPlay (at least prior to 2019) without going a retrofit route which many aren’t even aware of. GM, for example, allows you to use CarPlay without buying the expensive 1,500 option for nav. That’s a big chunk of coin they are losing out on by not forcing their nav and the development costs of it onto the consumer.


Most manufacturers I’ve seen allow you to get Carplay without Nav. Bundling Carplay with Nav is stupid redundant. I would never use the Nav system if I have Carplay.

Then again, I’m not the target audience for BMW’s program.


I’m not disagreeing with you, but CarPlay is more than just nav availability. Granted, having nav is a huge benefit, and a monetary one at that for consumers. It’s a profit killer for the manufacturers though if someone knows they don’t have to buy nav to get nav.


I think it speaks to an even greater issue… to me Carplay doesn’t represent just cost savings it represents an auto infotainment program that to me is better made, fluid, user-friendly than the native infotainment systems that manufacturers provide.

Both Google and Apple are absolutely killing it in this field and I feel as if several manufacturers are falling behind. Now… I’ve also seen user interfaces that pair well with Carplay and Android Auto (VW Groups, Kia/Hyundai come to mind).

App support is great, but the biggest boon to it is the ease of use especially when people are mostly comfortable having used their phones all day.

Savagegeese on youtube goes into great detail and length discussing these things in his reviews and I happen to find the points he makes to be intuitive.

It’s not lost on me that Google and Apple are SOFTWARE development companies and not auto makers.


Now this, I will disagree with. I much prefer iDrive to CarPlay, and I’m not an audiophile nor do I really get into podcasts, so to me, CarPlay is very meh, and I could certainly live without it. JMO though.


I think iDrive is the exception in most cases. I love Apple product, but CarPlay is average and the primary advantage is the ability to use Google Maps/Waze vs. the native nav since it’s easy to enter in a destination and leverage traffic. Compared to other standard interfaces, it’s a huge upgrade, for example the old Ford Sync was horrendous. I’m sure the development time needed to enhance and support iDrive is 10-20x the resources needed for CarPlay but that is what they are going to charge us for.

BMW wants to sell this vision of a luxurious experience, but sometimes it feel like I’m flying coach on Spirit


Of course, it definitely depends on who the user is and there will always be folks on both sides of the fence… I just have a rough time accepting BMW’s strategy on tying Carplay to a more expensive option and then charging a subscription for it.


I see what you’re saying but the decision to “throw money at it” isn’t entirely based on whether it’s a direct revenue producer or not.

Just because someone doesn’t have a $ line item on their monroney sticker for ACP/AA doesn’t mean their budget for it is zero. In fact it is safer to assume an early adopter of ACP/AA like GM or Hyundai/Kia is more invested than those who are still hellbent on keeping their proprietary systems.


There have been rumors BMW is trying to make a user “profile” that can be carried from one BMW to the next. In other words, I have my settings and my CarPlay in one car, and I get a loaner for the day. When I get into that car, it would be the same (or as close as you can get). So, if this ever comes to fruition, the subscription kinda sorta makes sense in that regard.


I read an article a few years back that indicated GM specifically was moving away from in-house development of Cue/intellilink due to ACP/AA, and the popularity. At one point, several years ago, GM used to put updates online you could download and upgrade your system at home with bug fixes/additional apps, etc. They pulled it, and I think that was probably around the time this article came out. Im sure some people bricked their head units too, so that’s probably part of the reason user updates went away also.

Whether or not their philosophy on this has changed in the last several years is anyone’s guess though.


That is interesting… I don’t think that would be specific to CarPlay, rather more likely iDrive as there are really no settings or personalization for CarPlay. You plug it in/hook it up and reads everything off the phone. Makes sense that it would be iDrive as they have the profile pieced built out with the BMW Connected App.

Scary part is the whole user profile piece is heading down path of now BMW being a data company potentially collecting where you go, how you drive, what you listen to, how often you have passengers, and how warm/cold you like your car.